ESC 2004: Sampling technology classes

Among the 132 classes at Embedded Systems Conference that addressed wide-ranging technology topics were: "Implementing Process Control Systems with Field-programmable Analog Arrays" and "Linux 101." Here is added information about these two noteworthy educational classes.


Technology classes are the cornerstone of Embedded Systems Conference.

Among the 132 classes at Embedded Systems Conference that addressed wide-ranging technology topics were: "Implementing Process Control Systems with Field-programmable Analog Arrays" and "Linux 101." Here is added information about these two noteworthy educational classes.

Embedded adaptive control
The fact that even embedded system developers need to know more about PID and adaptive controls was illustrated in "Implementing Process Control Systems with Field-programmable Analog Arrays" [FPAAs], a class presented by Christopher Schene, field applications engineer at Anadigm Inc . "Adaptive process control techniques are used in embedded systems when plant characteristics vary sufficiently such that the control constants and control transfer functions must adapt to changing process characteristics to operate the process within specifications," says Schene.

To implement an adaptive control system via FPAA technology and a processor, design engineers need to have a basic understanding of adaptive feedback control and be able to analyze simple plant models, as well as determine PID constants for various operating points. These elements are covered in the course, along with plant model approximations, choosing tuning constants, ways to select PID inputs, and various versions of adaptive control.

Linux 101
Linux operating system (OS) has been making news recently and has a growing presence in the world of embedded systems. Doug Abbott, principal consultant at Intellimetrix , presented an introductory class, at ESC, entitled "Linux 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Open Source Operating Systems" that explored among other things, "How and where Linux fits in the embedded and real-time space?" and "Why use Linux at all?"

The class presentation looks at such Linux issues as the Unix process model, protected mode memory, root file system, device drivers, and just how to make Linux operating system work. Embedded engineers receive an overview of tools they need to understand and use Linux OS effectively—as they face the pressure of shorter product development cycles. Abbott also explains open-source misconceptions and why Linux is not a real-time operating system, along with possible solutions to that need.

"Linux, as a derivative of Unix, presents a very different programming model from what we are historically used to in embedded programming," says Abbott. "Linux’s learning curve is steep, making it difficult for new users, but the learning experience also can be fun."

On a related topic, also see the article " Is Linux at the Gates of the Factory ?" in the May 2004 issue of Control Engineering .

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering,

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